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Rich Tehrani
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Latest Skype Problems

November 26, 2007

Skype Foiling German Police

November 23, 2007

VoIP has reduced the cost of phone calls worldwide allowing many the ability to speak with others at a low cost or even for free. Because of IP communications in fact, there has also been a business productivity renaissance. When you combine these gains with those afforded by mobility-enabling devices like Blackberries, it is incredible what has been achieved.   But there is a dark side to VoIP and it has to do with the ability to encrypt IP packets in a manner that precludes eavesdropping.   This is great from a security perspective but not great for law enforcement. Especially in Germany where Police are complaining vociferously about their inability to tap calls made via Skype and potentially other VoIP providers.   For more check out:   VNUnet: Skype encryption foils German police Register: Skype crypto stumps German cops Inquirer: Skype baffles German plod

Why Verizon Sued Vonage

November 23, 2007

I receive many questions about patents and why one company sues another. Patent portfolios are like nuclear weapons – if you have them, you are less likely to end up in a war. I was reminded of this idea as I read Ike Elliot’s Telecosm blog where he has an entry focusing on why Verizon is picking on smaller companies to sue.   Here is an excerpt:  
How does a patent holder decide who to target? They usually consider the following:
1.

Re-Kindle

November 21, 2007

I may have really screwed this prediction up. You remember yesterday when I said nobody wants the Kindle, the e-book reader from Amazon. Well apparently Amazon has announced today that they sold out of the units in stock. Normally this would mean I am way off with my prediction from about 24 hours earlier.

Nokia 810 Review

November 21, 2007

COTS to the Service Provider Rescue

November 20, 2007

There was a time when service providers had to purchase massively expensive proprietary equipment in order to deploy telephone service. Class 4 and 5 switches required enormous investment and could be justified as this equipment would be depreciated over many years in a well-known and slow-moving competitive environment.   Then along came VoIP and the market shifted into high gear. All of a sudden customers wanted more services and they wanted to spend less money for it all. Competition seemed to come from every direction with crazy “woohoo” ads from companies like Vonage and more sober ads from the cable companies.   Even worse, the wireless companies began to take share making it that much more difficult to pay for the massive iron sitting in central offices worldwide.   Just before VoIP became popular, new architectures such as CompactPCI and later Advanced TCA emerged allowing service providers to benefit from technologies being popularized in the enterprise and consumer markets.   As voice becomes a cheaper and cheaper commodity, service providers must look for other services to replace lost revenue.

Don’t Vote Until You read This

November 20, 2007

I am unhappy to hear that 24 House Republicans are delving into the FCC’s plan to regulate the cable companies more closely. FCC Chairman Martin is acting in the best interest of consumers by fostering competition in the cable industry and in doing so will likely lower consumer costs and allow more competition in the market.   While it is true that increased video competition is coming from phone companies and consumers can stream video over the internet, any support the FCC can give to increase the pace of video competition is good for all cable customers.   While House Republicans are in the information gathering phase at the moment, comments from Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, regarding her concern about the FCC moving away from light-touch regulation seems to show more concern for cable company shareholders than the citizens of the United States.   Recently I mentioned it would make more sense for the FCC to mandate network neutrality rather than get into the nitty gritty of regulating individual cable channels. I still think in the long run this direction makes the most sense.   However I must commend Chairman Martin for taking on cable companies and much of the government in an effort to increase the rate of competition in the cable business and subsequently help consumers.   I recommend voters keep an eye on the politicians and the party they represent in this dialogue and use this information when making voting decisions in the future.   See Also:   WSJ: FCC's Cable Plans Draw Fire

Ma Google

November 19, 2007

What will the communications market look like in ten years I wonder? It may be difficult to forecast incredible change and disruptive technologies but it is relatively easy to predict what will happen based on what we know today.   For example:   1)      We see more video being transmitted over broadband networks. 2)      Google is rolling out new services on a daily basis and using advertising to support many of them. 3)      AT&T and Verizon are not huge fans of the search leader as they are envious of the companies using their pipes to transmit services which make money for Google. 4)      The government does not seem to care that much about network neutrality.   So with these four points in mind let’s look at what needs to take place for Google to continue operating in a hostile service provider environment:   They need access to consumers directly.   It is that simple really. If the service providers continue to be the gatekeepers to Google the company risks its future. It is tough to see the US government stepping in and enforcing net neutrality at this point so this means Google must have a network -- and quickly -- to ensure it has a seat at the service provider table.   Of course Google does not want the messiness associated with becoming a service provider but they just have no choice but to protect themselves.   Many people have written me recently saying there is no way that Google will buy Sprint in response to a recent article on the matter.

Mobile Advertising Grows to $16.5 Billion

November 18, 2007

I was perusing some articles on mobile advertising recently and was absolutely stunned at how big some analysts think this market will be. According to this TMCnet article, Strategy Analytics predicts the global market for mobile advertising is slated to reach $14 billion by 2011.   ABI Research predicts the global market for mobile marketing and advertising will reach $3 billion by the end of 2007, and expand to $19 billion in 2011.   If we take the mid-way point between the estimates, the mobile ad market will be $16.5 billion in 2011. To put this in real-world terms it means that one-billion users will generate about $16 apiece.   It would seem to achieve this grand vision things will have to drastically change in the way we interact with mobile devices. One would imagine the path we are on at the moment cannot possibly get us to these numbers.   So as sit here looking at the gargantuan estimates above, I just wonder what would have to change to make these numbers achievable.

Google in Wireless

November 16, 2007

More discussions regarding Google getting into the wireless game were sparked today by a Wall Street Journal article focusing on Google’s wireless ambitions.   In summary:  
  • Google will likely bid on the 700 MHz spectrum or lose good will in Washington
  • The company’s bid will be $4.6 billion or more.
  • Google has a test FCC license and has cell towers at its campus which it uses with Android-based phones.
  • The company has been in semi-serious discussions with Clearwire regarding building out a WiMAX network.
  • Google has invested in femtocell maker Ubiquisys
  • Everyone and their brother is on record explaining how difficult it is to build a wireless network.
  • Wall Street is enthusiastic about lending money to Google to bid at the auction
  • Google will think about bringing in partners after the auction is over and it sees what happens.
  • The company has brought on game theory experts to help it in the bidding process.
  There has been a great deal of speculation regarding the rumors of Google acquiring Sprint with many thinking the idea is farfetched. It would seem however that since Google is working on its own wireless network, they are very serious about getting into the wireless space.   As we discussed in my recent post on the matter, Google likes to build everything itself from scratch. This is just the way the company operates. However if you are going to go into the wireless business it will take years to put towers around the US and then the world.   Think about the layers of negotiation which need to take place… City by city… Neighborhood by neighborhood -- the company has to place base stations with antennas on tall buildings, water towers and hilltops as far as the eye can see.   Sure this can be done, but it will take such a long time… Let’s say five years to cover the U.S.
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